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Hand-hygiene basics with soap and hand sanitiser

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Updated February 27, 2020

Stomach bugs, the flu and Covid-19 - many are the illnesses lurking about this spring. It's quite difficult to fully protect oneself, however, if there's one thing you can count on, it's to keep your hands clean, which helps prevent infections!

Why it's important to wash your hands

For many it's a given that there's a clear connection between clean hands and fewer illnesses. However, whilst many take it for granted today, back in the 1800s this was novel when Ignas Semmelweis discovered the value washing hands had in saving lives at the childbirth clinic he worked at in Vienna. By instituting regular hand-washing at their childbirth clinic, they were able to reduce the child mortality rate from 12.2% to 3.4% and this helped to solidify the vital role hand-washing plays in reducing the transmission of diseases.

The NHS has a great list of tips on how to wash your hands and reduce transmission of viral infections, among other information following the theme of personal hygiene and illness prevention such as:

  • Washing your hands throughly and often with soap and water
  • Using hand sanitiser
  • Keeping a distance from coughing or sneezing persons

Do face masks protect you from airborne illnesses?

The short answer is no, face masks don't fully protect you from airborne pathogens. They can lessen the likelihood of an infected or ill individual from spreading their pathogens further, however; face masks don't make one impervious to illnesses from others though.

How to wash one's hands the RIGHT way

How you wash your hands is usually something you learn in childhood. Some people however, either by laziness or lack of awareness don't wash their hands as effectively or often as they think and should. It's super important to rinse the hands thoroughly and to use enough soap to lather across the whole surface of the hands; both the front and back. Don't forget to pay attention to the thumbs, nails and to scrub between the fingers. It's also vital to rinse thoroughly and completely dry your hands (ideally with towels that have been through a machine wash cycle), which also contributes.

Always wash your hands:

  • After going outside, at work or in other public spaces
  • After all visits to the bathroom / toilet
  • Before and after eating
  • Before you make or serve food

Smart products for good hand hygiene

Automatic soap dispenser

A hygienic solution for hand washing is to have an automatic soap dispenser. As the name suggests, with this type of dispenser, you don't actually have to touch it to get soap out of it. They are super practical if you have kids in the family, that way you can avoid getting soap drops sticking to the tap handles, making them easier to keep clean. Also consider choosing a soap that isn't super thick or has bits in it so that the soap doesn't get stuck within the dispenser. If your soap is a bit too gloopy, you can always add a few drops of water to the dispenser to get it at a more manageable consistency.

Simplehuman Soap Dispenser ST1043

Simplehuman Soap Dispenser

This motion-activated soap dispenser can react in 0.2 seconds. One single charging of the batteries can go for 3 months of daily use.

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Hand soap from a pump-dispenser

What to choose... liquid soap or a bar of soap? It's really a question of taste. Bars of soap usually work really well for washing your hands but they aren't exactly self-cleaning. So after you have washed your hands, even the soap itself has to have dirt and grub removed from it. You can avoid this hassle though by getting pump dispenser, which is much easier to keep hygienic.

Hand soap can come in different types of bottles and dispensers. If you're drawn to soap in a glass or porcelain dispenser for example, you also have to accept the risk you may chip or break it at some point. If you tend to buy soap in bulk, chances are the packaging will be plastic.

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hand Wash 300ml

Rituals The Ritual of Sakura Hand Wash

Liquid hand soap based on rice milk and cherry-blossom with rehydrating ingredients

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Molton Brown Hand Wash Orange & Bergamot 300ml

Molton Brown Hand Wash Orange & Bergamot

This one smells heavenly with orange oil from Sevilla, Spain, bergamot and orange aromas that are well-suited to all skin types.

Dr. Bronners Organic Hand Sanitizer Lavender 59ml

Dr. Bronners Organic Hand Sanitiser Lavender

An organic hand sanitiser that is Fairtrade certified, contains ecological ethanol (62%), ecological lavender, glycerin and water.

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More tips and advice on how to protect yourself from illness

In order to make it easier for you to find great content on the theme of protection from illnesses, we've created a collection page for all of the related stories and content we've made on this topic. The page is updated on an on-going basis and here we'll gather guides and tips we hope will be of use and helpful to you in these flu-ridden times.

Read more guides and tips

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